Diet With An Attitude

An approach to weight control that delves into attitudes about weight, shape, appearance, and health. It requires a re-alignment of America's infatuation with food and painless dieting.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Inconsistency of Weight Control

I have dieted, intermittently, all my life: gaining and losing the same 30 - 40 pounds through the years. During those times when I just "blew it," I threw caution to the wind, ate everything that looked even remotely good, stuffed myself to a level of groaning pleasure and, generally, as we said in the Sixties, "let it all hang out." At other times, I have been remarkably disciplined, feeling very much in control.

Why am I so inconsistent?

Aren't we all?

We feel so good when we are in command of our appetites. We swear (and really mean it) that we will never be fat again. Like the dried out alcoholic, we see the world as a brighter, more satisfying place than we remembered. We feel better about ourselves and so we feel better about others. We walk with more spring in our step. We smile at our image reflected in the windows we pass. We feel light, and pure, and inspired. We are a new and better person and we enjoy it.

Then we lose it.

Unlike the alcoholic who often has one sip and is off to the races on a full-blown binge, we usually relapse on our weight control regimen slowly, one bite at a time. We tell ourselves "Just this once." The occasional treat becomes a regular part of our consumption. Fearful of regaining our former blubber, we surreptiously check the scales and sign with relief at only a minimal gain.

The secret of having an effect on our environment is to pay attention. As our concentration on eating control wanes, what we allow ourselves to eat starts to slip beneath the radar and gradually the weight slouches back. We intermittently try to stop the slide but we are distracted and one day we ruefully admit that we have regained everything we worked so hard to lose.

That's when attitude kicks in. We can throw up our arms in disgust and learn to live with it - it's our genes, our metabolism, our hormones - "I just can't keep my weight down; I give up." Or, we can take ourselves to task, cast an objective but critical eye on what happened, and cheer ourselves up with the knowledge that we gained control before and we can do it again. Then we start over.

For the most intelligent species on the planet, we are amazingly dumb. We eventually learn from our mistakes but usually only after multiple errors and repetitive painful consequences.


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